It’s no secret that we think the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a big deal. It’s one of the easiest tools for students looking to pay for education after high school. And while we constantly stress how important it is to complete the FAFSA form and send it in, what really happens once you send it off in the mail?
Well, it isn’t a great mystery, but the steps of what happens with your FAFSA after you turn it in can help show why it is so important to not hold off completing it until the last minute.
The information in your FAFSA is shared with the financial aid office at the colleges and/or schools you list on the application. This will be used to figure out how much federal financial aid money, as well as any school-specific funds, you may receive at that school.
Your FAFSA information also goes to the higher education agency in your state and any agencies in the states of your chosen schools to determine financial aid possibilities at the state level.
That’s what makes the FAFSA such a useful tool. With one application, you make connections with multiple schools, as well as the federal and state financial aid agencies. Better yet, if you fill out your FAFSA online, you can check the status immediately after submitting it online. If you send your FAFSA by snail mail, you still only have to wait roughly 7–10 days from the date mailed before checking the Federal Student Aid Information Center on http://www.fafsa.gov.
It’s fast! It’s free! Don’t wait until the last minute!